Hogwarts and hormones in Harry’s latest
The wait is over.
For those of us who kept hoping that the Harry Potter franchise would finally live up to all of the expectations of the hype and fan base adoration, with the equivalent thrill of a Quidditch match play goal, we can exhale.
It’s likely not going to happen. With the sixth installment, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, confirms what many have felt all along: this is a series of fun adaptations of the wildly successful books without a remarkable movie in the bunch.
There’s still a chance of course, with the seventh and final volume “Deathly Hallows” coming to the big screen in reportedly two films (as early as next year) but if something truly unforgettable and genre transforming hasn’t happened yet, it ain’t happening.
That’s not to say that the teen angst-ridden current film is devoid of some special moments. There are plenty of neat little surprises, and the screenplay might be the funniest and best written yet. A guest appearance by Jim Broadbent playing Professor Horace Slughorn nearly steals the show.
But for a film two and a half hours in length there are ghastly long stretches with little or no action filled with inconsequential dialogue certain to cause drowsinees in little ones and impatience in those who hope for the thrills the trailer portends.
Two of the only action sequences are indeed terrific-the Death Eater’s attack on the Weasley homestead and a creepy cave excursion-but they seem to last only an instant. Even the excitement of the Quidditich matches feel more nostalgic than an improvement over those sequences in previous films.
Harry, (Daniel Radcliffe), and best friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are about to begin their sixth year at the Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardy. All three have matured nicely into their roles and their acting seems more fluid and natural. Arch nemesis Voldemort still lurks, while fellow student and pasty-skinned rival Draco (Tom Felton) still seeks revenge.
Headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon in his most likable portrayal thus far) hopes to help Harry find the key to evil Voldemort’s vulnerability, recruiting his old friend Slughorn. Alan Rickman shines again as Professor Snape who appears to be double crossing or is he?
But the heart of this story is to be found in the romantic intentions and anxiety of its hormonal Hogwartian students. Yes love is in the gloomy Scottish air and the castle is teaming with adolescent angst. It’s fun to watch the young wizards work through their awkward emotions.
As strange as this sounds, “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince could have been better served by material that merited a PG-13 rating. There’s very little danger and doom here save one key tragedy at the film’s end that somehow feels anti-climatic instead of profoundly moving.
Instead, this sixth installment is likeably unremarkable-and feels like some sort of Diagon Alley deja-vu; a road, an overly long road, we’ve been down many times.
Rated PG for scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality.